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Farming at a Global Scale
Hill farming in
Scandinavia due to
poor climate

Common Agricultural
policy in EU

Russian Steppes Wheat production

Japan: Intensive Rice farming

Subsistence Rice
farming in the Ganges

Mid-West prairies
Monoculture of wheat

Shifting Cultivation
Subsistence farming


Nomadic Hunting
Nomadic Herding
Shifting cultivation
Intensive subsistence farming
Plantation Agriculture
Livestock Ranching
Cereal Cultivation
Mixed farming
Mediterranean Agriculture
Not used for agriculture

E.g. Australian Aborigines

E.g. Sahel Countries
E.g. Amazon Basin
E.g. Rice, Ganges valley
E.g. Sugar cane, Brazil
E.g. American Prairies
E.g. Canadian Prairies
E.g. UK
E.g. Mezzogiorno, Italy
E.g. Nile Valley
E.g. Sahara Desert

Classification of Farming
There are a number of classifications that can be used to distinguish between types of farm:

Economic Status
Subsistence farming Grow only enough food & fibre for their own needs and so hardly
ever enter into the cash economy. However there is usually some element of commercialism.
Tends to dominate in LEDCs. E.g. Subsistence rice farming in the Ganges valley.
Commercial farming Produce agricultural commodities for sale as part of the agribusiness.
The prime function is to make a profit. Capital is used to purchase items such as machinery.
These farms are generally larger than subsistence farms due to the large expense so they can
use economies of scale. Therefore they tend to dominate in MEDCs. E.g. Plantations & wheat
Collective farming Occur where there is a centrally planned economy. In these societies
agricultural production operates under a system of collective & state farms. The workers tend
the land for a small salary but do not share in the profits. Generally these are not as productive
as privately run farms. E.g. China, North Korea.

- Arable arable is more efficient as there is greater food per unit area.
- Pastoral Often a response to a limiting factor in the environment.
- Mixed

Intensity of Land Use

Intensive farming A small farm compared to the amount of labour & the money spent.
There is a high yield per unit area and there are high levels of inputs. E.g. commercial market
gardening in which there are high amounts of capital, technology, labour & fertilisers. The
farms are often small & so investment is concentrated.
Extensive farming A large farm compared to the labour or money spent on it. There are
lower levels of input and so there are lower yields per unit area. However because there is
very low labour, profits are fairly high, therefore extensive farms can be just as profitable as
intensive ones.

Nature of the Physical Environment

Land Tenure
- Shifting / nomadic cultivation
- Sedentary farming permanent.

Classification of Agricultural systems

Upland - Lowland
Interior - Maritime
Topical - Subtropical Temperate

Factory farming



Demand Pattern
Modifications through social
& political Influences

Commercial Livestock
(Home markets &
Overseas markets

Monoculture -


Factors Influencing Agriculture
The location of agriculture is influenced by the characteristics of both the physical environment & the
human environment. On a global scale climate is the dominant influence but on a more local scale soil
and relief explain variation better.
Type of farming dependent on:
Favourable physical conditions
Economic conditions
Personal choice of the farmer
Political pressures
Size of farm
Market trends
An example of this is the Location of farming in Europe:
The Physical Constraints of Agricultural Systems
The environment acts as a constraint on agriculture, as provides the basic essentials for plant life heat,
sunshine, water & soil. Different crops vary in their environmental requirements.
Climate Most significant control growth & survival
- Also affects soil formation & quality
- Annual & seasonal amounts of rainfall, although this is now negated with irrigation. E.g.
N&W Europe has high rainfall for grass growth & so better to rear animals while the S &
E is dry so is better suited to arable farming.
- Length of thermal growing season. E.g. Italy where there is a long growing season so fruit
ripens better.
Soil Influence on plant growth
- Depth generally need to be deep & rich for intensive farming.
- Acidity
- Fertility
- Moisture retention - Well-drained
- Texture
- Structure
- Amount of soil nutrients
Relief Effect on climate & soils
- Influence on aspect, altitude, slope etc.
- The flatter the land the more efficient the farm.

Social, Economic & Political factors influencing

Agricultural Land Use
Farm size/ Tenure
Farm size varies due to land quality & availability. This determines whether farming is intensive or
extensive. Farm size also determines prosperity large farm allows economies of scale.
Forms of tenure:
1. Owner occupation freedom to do what you like & invest for the future
2. Tenancy Landowner provides the land & working equipment in exchange for an annual cash
3. Communal ownership e.g. China where there can be problems of bad decision making due to poor
The impact on agricultural land use is often determined by the different access of these various groups
to capital for investment.
Inheritance laws Generally farm size has increased along with increased commercialisation of
agriculture. However in mainland Europe the land is often split equally between all the children of a
deceased farmer leading to fragmentation of land. This has had a negative impact on the development
of commercial farming.

Transport availability and distance from markets impacts on price. Even where transport costs have
fallen this is still a strong influence.

The size & type of markets is very important. E.g. there is a lack of milk production in China as many
ethnic groups have an intolerance of dairy products. In the UK the rising popularity of organic goods
has had a large impact on the type of goods produced in the UK. Also perishable goods tend to be
grown near to market.

There is competition for land from urban sprawl or recreation. Increased globalisation of food
production, so there is now greater competition with imports. This has been helped by the trend in
reducing trade barriers. E.g. Uruguay has lost its specialisation in beef markets due to the development
of beef industries in other countries. This had a catastrophic effect on Uruguay.

Economic Factors
In developed countries farming is capital intensive. Used to maximise yields with mechanisation or by
altering the landscape. In MEDCs farmers tend to rely on government subsidies. There is very little
capital in LEDCs and so co-operative systems are more useful. There are, however problems of price
stability & exploitation in LEDCs so they cant get a fair price.
Transport & markets are important in determining the crop but is no longer as important as it was due
to the advance in technology. TNCs tend to use global markets to produce fruit & vegetables, as it is

Decision makers with personal goals.

Government intervention
Forms one of the supporting structures of the food supply system and so is a major influence. The
extent & impact of government interference has increased considerably during the 20th Century.
Methods of support:
Supplement incomes income support
Reduce costs Grants for improvements, restructuring & management.
Reduce supply Quotas & set-aside
Increase demand Domestic food subsidy, intervention buying, export subsidy & food aid.
E.g. There is wide scale industrial farming in the UK to drive up production and be self-sufficient so
now farming here extremely efficient. Also helped by the development of CAP.
Similarly the World Trade Organisation & many TNCs have had a large role in developing global
markets and global production patterns. There has also been the development of the agribusiness due to
government intervention.

Human Impacts

Growing population need to produce more food.

Now MEDCs import more food.
Fertiliser increase the yield in affluent areas.
Mechanisation Increases yield, but reduces employment.
Varieties of seed GM crops & HYVs (High yield varieties) more resilient.